Thursday, January 13, 2011

Heritage Hotspots like Taj Mahal may be veiled from Ordinary Travellers

The World Heritage sites will soon only become exclusively open to the access of the rich and the famous. The world heritage sites include Venice, the pyramids and definitely the Taj Mahal of Agra. This is a deep call for action as the weight of mass tourism is crushing these world heritage sites and within 20 years they could be lost.  So, in the near future regular travellers will have to make do with the viewing stages whereas the wealthy and the bigwigs can make their way and charm themselves in the beauty and elegance of these heritage hot spots. So, may be sometime from now you would like to win a lottery to see one of these Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal.

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Tourists Flock to Himachal Pradesh Lured by Snowfall

Tourists Enjoying Snowfall in Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Travelers, both domestic and international are thronging in hundreds and thousands in the now-snow clad picturesque tourist spots of Himachal Pradesh, especially in Manali, to enjoy its snow white beauty. Add to this bewitching snowy beauty, some hot adrenaline rushes in the form of skiing, sledging, snowboarding, mountain biking, paragliding, horse riding and ballooning and Himachal Pradesh have what it makes to be the “it” travel destination of India in the ongoing winter months of 2011. The Solang slopes, which are now all wrapped in cottony snow have become the playground of adventure seekers, both professional and amateur, and tourists all geared up in ski boots are queuing up for their turn in the fun-filled skiing sessions offered here. While the monastic Lahaul and Spiti remain out of bounds due to excessive snowfall as is predictable during winter, the other tourist regions of Himachal Pradesh, namely Manali in Kullu and Kalpa in Kinnaur along with Chamba, Dharamshala and Bhuntar are keeping tourism in the state very busy, and merrily. 

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Lohri – the Bonfire Festival of India

Lohri 2011, the winter solstice festival of India falls today, i.e. on January 13th. As Lohri 2011 dresses up, the North Indian regions of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh, it comes as a reminder that the sweetness of winter is soon going to be transformed into the blossoming spring season or the Vasant Ritu. The North Indian festival of Lohri is also essentially a harvest festival and a time for married couples to seek blessings from the elders. 

Traditions of Lohri festival

There is an old tradition of kids going about collecting money from neighborhood houses on this auspicious and beautiful occasion of Lohri. Even the Lohri 2011 is still witnessing that age old cultural tradition when the children sing merry songs in the praise of Dulha Bhatti (a legendary Punjabi character similar to the brave Robin Hood) who robbed the rich people to help the poor. These little singers who move from door to door in the neighborhood are either gifted with money or are offered goodies that include sweet dishes like gajak, gur (jaggery), til bhuga, rewri and moong phalli (peanuts).

Lohri Bonfire festival in Punjab
Lohri is also known as the bonfire festival of India as in the evening of this festival, a bonfire is arranged for and people gather around and relish winter savories together. The festival of Lohri reaches a bigger significance if a family experiences a happy event in the same year like the birth of a baby or a wedding. The scene of Lohri celebrations across North India is pumped up by energizing dance performances like Bhangra, gidda and dhol. People throw popcorns, til and puffed rice in the fire, collected from the neighborhood houses. This ceremony signifies offerings to the Fire lord or Agni Dev to seek his blessings for prosperity and abundance. People sing and perform folk dances around the fire, which is one of the most beautiful moments of the North India Lohri festival.

Gidda Dance During the Punjab Lohri Festival
Lohri and other Indian festivals

Lohri is celebrated during the period of Uttarayan or winter solstice and in Eastern and Central India, during the same time, Makar Sankranti festival is celebrated. Also, Pongal is celebrated in the Southern part of India. Each of these three festivals thus has connections to winter solstice, blessings and definitely new harvest. In South India, the sankranti festivals stretch to more than three days welcoming the onset of the harvest season. A rath yatra is organized from Chennai’s Kandaswamy temple on the day of Pongal. In West Bengal, Makar Sankranti reaches the epitome of festivity in the pilgrim spot of Ganga Sagar on the Bay of Bengal. A huge fair is organized on the Sagar Island and pilgrims from far and wide collect to take a holy bath in the confluence of the Holy Ganges River with the sea and worship the deities at the Kapilmuni Temple.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ghorakatora, Rajgir and Jethiyan - International Hotspots in Bihar Tourism Scene

Bihar tourism is all set to receive a new high in the scene of India tours and travels. The three iconic tourist destinations in the map of Bihar tourism, namely - Rajgir, Jethiyan and Ghorakatora will soon be developed into tourist destinations in the international scale so as to attract international travellers besides promoting the regular influx of domestic tourists. Kudos to the latest high-level review meeting of youth affairs, tourism and art and culture departments, which as revealed by Bihar Chief Minister – Nitish Kumar, was all about developing tourism in Bihar on the International tourism scene by promoting the historical hotspots of Jethiyan, Ghorakatora and Rajgir.

To add to the adrenaline fun besides archaeological fantasies, the Bihar tourism board in these named areas has also promised to add the options of adventure sports like paragliding and parasailing. The chief minister has also been quoted by national daily stating that a large acre of plantation besides a picturesque hill surrounded pond in Ghorakatora will be developed as a destination of ecotourism in Bihar. Plus, the government is also actively dreaming and nurturing the idea of opening ‘Ganga diara’ as an international tourist spot in Bihar and wishes to set up special camps in the area. The project also plans starting the festive culture of “Ganga Aarti” or worship of the Ganges River from the February 2011 and include it as a regular feature.

Seeing that Bihar tourism has already surpassed the 5.5 lakh mark in November 2010, the Bihar tourism board - Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) has taken the decision to accommodate the state with some of the finest hotels. Transportation has also seen a major high in the Bihar tourism arena as luxury Volvo coaches have already been enlisted to be purchased to boost up tourism in Bihar. Meanwhile, the progress on the proposed international museum in Patna is also on a speed roll. 

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